Managing the Holidays with Aging Loved Ones
2020 has been a year unlike any other that we have experienced in recent history, and the holidays will likely come with their own challenges for our aging loved ones. To help us all continue to support and connect with our families and those who have been more isolated this year, we wanted to share a few tips from A Place for Mom that may help this holiday season.
The holiday season is often a time for gathering and sharing in memories and traditions with our loved ones; however, with the COVID19 pandemic still ongoing, this isn’t an option for many people, particularly seniors, and can lead to some seasonal depression.
A Place for Mom has developed a “CHEER Plan” to help manage holiday depression in our aging loved ones. Their CHEER Plan was developed to help us make the most of our time with our loved ones, while also helping to remain proactive in identifying any signs of loneliness or depression in order to battle the holiday blues.
In this plan, CHEER stands for:
C - CHECK on your loved ones’ well-being.
If you are able to visit in-person, take a quick look around. Help replace fire alarm batteries, restock their pantry or fridge with healthy food or make a quick run to the pharmacy for them. Pick-up a new slip-proof door mat to help reduce the risk of falling or slipping, and ask questions about their physical and mental health to see if there is anything that you can do to make them more comfortable and safe.
H - HELP your senior loved ones stay engaged.
While social engagement can be more difficult in the winter months due to weather conditions anyway, we also must consider the fact that we’ve been in the midst of a global pandemic for nearly the entire year – which may contribute to more feelings of isolation or loneliness during the holidays. Finding safe ways to keep our loved ones engaged is extremely important always, but especially now.
If your loved ones are set-up with a smart phone or computer, help them to make a Zoom account or to learn how to use FaceTime. If they will not be attending any family gatherings, make sure to schedule a call so that they can feel involved and engaged in holiday festivities – and if they seem lonely, as questions! Taking time to listen can really make an impact.
E - EMPOWER your aging loved ones to live independently.
Helping the seniors in your life develop new skills that can empower them to live independently and safely can increase their confidence and help to compensate for the many changes we’ve all experienced this year. Whether that is teaching them how to use InstaCart or DoorDash to have food and groceries delivered, or showing them how to reset a WIFI router in case of a loss of service.
It can also be helpful to provide them with a list of resources that they can reach out to if they need help – these resources can vary from mobility services to medical assistance. If you’d like some help, check our list of useful resources here.
E - ENJOY your time together.
While safety should be the priority, once you’ve made sure that your loved ones are in good health and coping well with everything that is currently happening, make time to enjoy the holidays together. Although gathering this year may not be a possibility, there are other ways to connect – such as setting up a phone call or video call each night where your loved one can read a holiday story to their grandchildren or great-grandchildren, or safely delivering homemade cookies or treats to their front door.
R - REMINISCE with seniors and aging loved ones.
The holidays can often bring up some of our fondest memories and allowing your aging loved ones to be a bit nostalgic and reminisce over the holidays can be a great way to connect. Bring out family photo albums or videos and enjoy the time spent reminiscing together.
The holidays can be a challenging time for many, and while the increased isolation of 2020 has presented us with new challenges, there are still opportunities to connect and enjoy this holiday season – and it will only make 2021 even more sweet when we can hopefully be together again!